13 September 2011

To you with affection from Danny #nlpoli #cdnpoli

Anybody who is even vaguely aware of Danny Williams’ attitude to the CBC during his term as Premier will realise what an amazing thing it was for him to sit for 10 minutes on Monday and discuss his nomination of Elizabeth Matthews to sit on the offshore regulatory board.

CBC’s Chris O’Neill-Yates picked up the story  - the same one posted here Monday morning - and added significantly to what might turn out to be a new political mess for the Dunderdale administration.

The new mess though isn’t about a patronage plum Williams lined up for Matthews.


affectioncutNow the mess is found in the gigantic contradictions between what actually happened and what the major characters in the drama have said until now.

For example, there’s the issue of what Elizabeth Matthews knew about her nomination and appointment and when she knew it.  Williams is unequivocal in the full interview on Monday:  she would have known about the nomination when he put her name forward. 

That contradicts the impression left with a great many people.  On March 11, for example, CBC’s Provincial Affairs reported tweeted about a conversation he’d has with Matthews.  Cochrane wrote “EM says she has never been told of any appointment.”

After the Liberal opposition released a copy of the order in council Matthews had received making her appointment to the board, Matthews told CBC:

When I received the OC in the mail I contacted the premier's office immediately. I was told ... at the time that the OC was sent in error, and in fact the individual I spoke to was unaware of it,…

The cabinet order itself is unequivocal.  Under the first part, cabinet appointed Matthews to the board as a Newfoundland and Labrador representative starting on January 1. 

If Matthews was as knowledgeable about these things as Williams claims and if officials of the provincial government knew anything, they’d understand that part of the cabinet order did not need any approval from the federal government.

There’d be no reason for her to misunderstand that she had an appointment to the board when she got the OC in the mail.  And even if she and her provincial benefactors wanted to wait until she had the federal agreement on making her the vice-chair as well, that still wouldn’t explain why Matthews claimed she didn’t know about an appointment.

Heck, as your humble e-scribbler reported on Monday, Matthews sent her resume to the Premier’s Office on December 21, apparently in support of the letter to the federal government about her appointment. She knew what was going on.  And as Williams made plain on Monday, Matthews knew he was putting her name up for the job.

Then there’s the odd claims by Williams hand-picked successor  Kathy Dunderdale and natural resources minister Shawn Skinner that they were responsible for Matthews’ nomination and appointment. CBC’s online story includes the quotes they gave in the spring.  They wouldn’t do any interviews with CBC on Monday.

Williams made clear that he discussed Matthews’ appointment to the offshore board with Dunderdale as part of the hand-over process. While he didn’t actually make the appointment himself, Williams left the clear impression he told his successor exactly what he wanted to see happen.

Technically, it was up to his successor to get the job done. But  there’s no doubt he wanted Matthews in that job and – given the way events unfolded in December over his succession – Williams had plenty of opportunities to push his views right up until the cabinet issued its order on December 21.

And Skinner and Dunderdale delivered for Williams.

Things just came apart in March after someone leaked the story to CBC’s David Cochrane.  That’s when Matthews, Dunderdale and Skinner started telling versions of events that didn’t jive with what happened.

Apparently, they never imagined the whole story would come out.


- srbp -